Tags: Where | Have | You | Gone | Gore?

Where Have You Gone, Al Gore?

Sunday, 01 February 2004 12:00 AM

Howard Dean's loss in Iowa and his reaction to that loss severely hurt his chances of partaking in a particular swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20, 2005. Losing New Hampshire to John Kerry made that likelihood virtually impossible.

Some say Dean peaked too soon. Others peg the now infamous "I have to scream" speech in Iowa on caucus night. Besides Dean's now numerous political foot-in-mouth misstatements and his anger at the establishment platform, however, what concretely hurt Dean immeasurably is his choice of friends.

John Kerry had Ted Kennedy stumping with him in Iowa several times, specifically toward the end. It paid off handsomely, as Kerry blew past Dean, who placed a distant third. Of all the endorsements Dean picked up in the last two months, none were thought more important than the Dec. 9 endorsement of the 2000 presidential election popular-vote winner, former Vice President Al Gore.

Gore stumped for Dean twice in Iowa: the day he endorsed Dean and once again on Jan. 10, on the eve of the final debate in Iowa. At that time, the Zogby poll had Dean at 28 percent to Kerry's 15 percent.

Gore won Iowa in 2000 over George W. Bush and was well-versed in the Hawkeye State's liberal politics. But instead of campaigning for Dean – someone who, Gore had stated, "clearly stands out" – Gore was busy giving a policy speech about global warming to his pet political organization, MoveOn.org, in New York, which was experiencing its coldest winter in memory.

So, on Jan. 15, with the temperature hovering barely above 0 degrees, Gore wooed thousands of radical leftists while Dean began a quick descent in Iowa, which, unless a miracle happens, will mark the beginning of the fatality of his bid for the presidency.

In New Hampshire, the story was no different. Gore was MIA in a state he also won in his primary bid in the 2000 election, where he beat another Dean endorser and no-show, former Sen. Bill Bradley. As Dean limped into New Hampshire badly in need of the boost, Gore had a more pressing engagement. In fact, the last time Gore was spotted was in the control room of NASA on Sunday, Jan. 25, in California, watching the landing of the Mars rover "Opportunity" with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It was thought by some that the former vice president's bold move to endorse someone so outside the mainstream exposed his own true liberal roots.

Gore was criticized during his presidential campaign as a man without an identity, who sought advice from consultants as to the persona he should portray in public and tried to strike the "right" tone among the electorate. He was a candidate uncomfortable in his own skin.

With his endorsement of the liberal dark horse from Vermont, Gore appeared to be answering a call to nature, principally his own.

This was the much-awaited "re-emergence" of Al Gore and his stepping back into the political dogfight sure to happen in 2008. It was also his challenge of moving the Democratic Party in a new direction, most notably away from the tutelage of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Still stinging over the results of the 2000 election and self-indulgently blaming his loss on Clinton's scandal-scarred presidency, Gore chose to bed down with the anti-establishment, Bush-hating left, abandoning the centrist policies he once claimed to espouse.

Now Dean heads to South Carolina for the start of a seven-state primary surge, with delegate-counting beginning to loom as a factor. He is not predicted to do well in Missouri and Oklahoma, which means he must win in states like Arizona and New Mexico in order to stay in the race.

If Dean can win a race, he can hold on to Feb. 17 and hope to stop Kerry in Michigan and Washington state. But front-runner status and the momentum belong to John Kerry, and with that comes campaign cash.

This was not supposed to be the script Howard Dean would be entering South Carolina with. Up until three weeks ago, Dean was projected to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. With Al Gore's help, he might have won both.

So far, Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean amounts to nothing more than a shadow endorsement: You see its outline and you know it's there, yet it has no substance, making it inconsequential.

What can Al Gore be expected to do for Howard Dean in South Carolina? Well, South Carolina mattered so little to Gore in the 2000 presidential election that he made exactly one stop in the state throughout the entire campaign.

To Dean, it must feel like a lifetime ago when he had the money, the base and the organization to beat the "Washington establishment" by stunning the Beltway with wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Now, in all probability, he fights for a prime speaker's spot at the Democratic convention in Boston this July.

There, the iconoclastic Howard Dean can rub elbows with the Democratic power base he professes to despise and ask Gore, who attempted to play "kingmaker" by endorsing him in December 2003, why he abandoned Dean when the throne was in his grasp.


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Howard Dean's loss in Iowa and his reaction to that loss severely hurt hischances ofpartaking in a particular swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20, 2005. Losing New Hampshire to John Kerry made that likelihood virtually impossible. Some say Dean peaked too soon. Others peg the...
Sunday, 01 February 2004 12:00 AM
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